Water customers urged to check credit card accounts

Credit card information for water customers who made payments in person and automatically online may have been breached in addition to those who made individual payments online. The vendor who processes card payments alerted the City today that the scope of the potential vulnerability has widened.

Previously, the vendor believed any compromise that may have occurred affected only online customers who make individual payments each month. Customers who pay by bank draft, by check or cash, or by phone have not been affected; payment by phone is a service provided by a separate vendor.

Online payments have been temporarily disabled. Payments may be made by calling 325-657-4323 or by bank draft. Payments can also be made by cash or check at City Hall Annex, 301 W. Beauregard Ave., from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. A 24-hour dropbox is also available at that location.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused customers,” Water Utilities Director Allison Strube said. “We are working with the vendor who processes our online payments to determine whether credit card information was vulnerable, the number of accounts that might have been impacted, and the time span over which that could have occurred.”

The City received a concern Friday that online water bill payments may have led to unauthorized charges on customers’ credit card accounts. The City immediately disabled the site, encouraged customers who had made online payments to monitor credit card accounts for unauthorized charges, and began working with the third-party vendor to install new software and a new server. Those actions are in keeping with state law, which demands that municipalities notify citizens and address such situations immediately and proactively.

The City’s vendor is still seeking to confirm whether credit card information was vulnerable and, if so, when. If the vendor finds that occurred, customers who made credit card payments during that period will be contacted by mail. In the meantime, customers are advised to watch their credit card accounts for illicit activity.

As soon as the City knows more about the situation, it will be shared on its Facebook and Twitter pages, on the City’s website and with the local news media.

Any vulnerability regarding credit card information would not have increased the amount of a monthly bill. Customers whose water accounts are paid automatically online will not have to re-enroll for that service, unless they use a different card. Late fees incurred while the online system was inactive will be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the Water Customer Service office, which can be contacted at 325-657-4323 or during business hours at City Hall Annex.

“While the risk of using a credit card – online and elsewhere – always exists, the City of San Angelo is dedicated to working with our vendors to ensure the most secure online experience possible for our citizens,” City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said. “Again, we apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.”

State of the City

Drought Level 1 takes effect Aug. 1

The City Council has enacted Drought Level 1 restrictions that limit outside watering to once every seven days and no more than 1 inch per week, effective Thursday, Aug. 1.

The change from watering twice to once a week is dictated by the City’s drought contingency ordinance, which mandates the tighter restriction when San Angelo’s available water supply slips to 24 months. Twenty-four months is a worst-case scenario that assumes no rainfall or runoff into San Angelo’s reservoirs over that two-year span.

“San Angelo has for years now embraced water conservation, realizing how vital an adequate water supply is for the continued growth of our community,” Mayor Brenda Gunter said. “We are now asking our citizens to be even more mindful about their water usage and to redouble their conservation efforts. In short, we all need to do our part and be water-smart.”

Currently, the City’s primary water source, Ivie Reservoir, is at 15 percent of its capacity. Twin Buttes and O.C. Fisher reservoirs are at 9 percent and 7 percent of their capacities, respectively. Lake Nasworthy is at 81 percent of its capacity. The City is also using about 1.5 million gallons per day from the Hickory Aquifer.  

Year to date, San Angelo has recorded 9.68 inches of rainfall – 1.61 inches below normal. The area has been plagued with triple-digit heat since May.

The use of water sprinklers and handheld hoses is prohibited from noon-6 p.m. when evaporation rates are highest. Drip irrigation can be used any time of day, but should not exceed 1 inch per week. Under the drought ordinance, golf course greens may be watered daily from 6 p.m. until noon the following day.

Water runoff of more than 150 feet from a property is always prohibited.

Residential users who use more than 3,000 gallons per month also face higher charges. Usage of 3,000-15,000 gallons will be charged at 1.05 times the regular rate. The rate for usage of 16,000-39,000 gallons is 1.1 times the normal rate. For usage of more than 39,000 gallons, the multiplier is 1.2 times the normal rate.

While the watering restrictions require customers to conserve water, the Drought Level 1 surcharge is meant to encourage consumers to be more mindful of their usage to stretch the community’s water supply as far as possible.

Should San Angelo slip to Drought Level 3, which is triggered by 12 months of available water supply, outdoor watering would be prohibited and higher rate multipliers for usage would be triggered.

To report a watering violation, call the Code Compliance office at 325-657-4409, visit cosatx.us/water, email rudy.ibarra@cosatx.us, or message the City of San Angelo-Public Information Facebook page. Reports should include the address, the time of day, the nature of the violation and, if available, photos.

City Council 2017-6

(Back row, left to right, Lane Carter, District 5; Tom Thompson, District 2; Daniel Valenzuela, City Manager; Tommy Hiebert, District 1; Harry Thomas, District 3. Front row, left to right, Billie DeWitt ,District 6; Brenda Gunter, Mayor; Lucy Gonzales, District 4.)

The City Council is a seven-member policy board for the City of San Angelo. 

The Council meets twice a month at the McNease Convention Center, 500 Rio Concho Drive. Meetings are open to the public and are usually held on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 8:30 a.m.  

Mayor named Small Business Champion

Mayor Brenda Gunter has been chosen the winner of the 2018 Small Business Champion of the Year Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration for its San Antonio District.

The Small Business Development Center at Angelo State University nominated Gunter for the award. The San Antonio district encompasses 55 counties, including the cities of Austin and Laredo.

“This is a great honor and a wonderful surprise,” Gunter said. “But the far more gratifying reward is seeing how San Angelo’s economic development partners work together to support local entrepreneurs as they launch and grow new employers in our community.”

Each year to help celebrate National Small Business Week (April 29-May 5), the SBA accepts nominations in various categories and recognizes entrepreneurs for their achievements. Included are those who champion small business. The Small Business Champion Award recognizes someone who assists small business through advocacy efforts and has fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of small business opportunities.

In addition to serving as mayor, Gunter owns and operates a small business downtown, Miss Hattie’s Restaurant and Cathouse Lounge.

“Mayor Gunter is very deserving of the SBA Small Business Champion award because she is a great individual who always works toward improving the environment for small businesses,” said Dave Erickson, director of the ASU Small Business Development Center.

City Council member profiles

Mayor Brenda Gunter

 

Tommy Hiebert, District 1

 

Tom Thompson, District 2

 

Harry Thomas, District 3

Lucy Gonzales, District 4

 

Lane Carter, District 5

Billie DeWitt, District 6

Who is your City Council member?

Watch City Council meetings

City Council meetings air daily on SATV (Suddenlink cable channel 17 & 117) at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

   

 

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